A parent complained that my newsletter was too long last year. I can imagine some laughing a bit since if you read my blog, you know I like to write.
As I thought about the parent's comment, I realized that I could start the newsletters with bullet points up top, then continue with the more detailed paragraphs for those that want more information. Also, rather than writing the newsletter myself, I want to have students write most of the posts instead.
Then yesterday I read The New York Times Insights, "The Psychology of Sharing." I really liked the way the document was crafted and the highlights shared. It was streamlined, pleasing, and to the point with links to deeper information if desired. A good model for streamlining online communication and share.
What else can we streamline and make more accessible and easy to understand so that most of the time is spent on teaching and learning in deep and meaningful ways?
Field Studies and Permission Slips
Try to organize all field studies and permission slips into one form at the beginning of the year that's ready before parent night. Ask parents, who are interested to bring their checkbooks, and have those that can sign the slips and pay the fee (or perhaps the first half of the fee) that night. That will streamline that system.
Set up one "important date" calendar for the learning/teaching team. Publish that calendar online and add important dates to it as they arise. At parent night introduce the page to parents so that they can bookmark it on their mobile devices. Make sure to ask parents to bring their mobile devices to curriculum night.
Similarly have the conference sign-up list ready at parent night too. Let families sign up for dates that work with their schedules.
Work with the greater teaching team to map out the curriculum prior to the first days of school. Include main curriculum events, goals, and foci so that there's not a lot of overlapping and confusion with regard to curriculum work, test dates, special events, and individual efforts during the year.
Set communication protocols with the greater teaching team. How should we communicate with each other with regard to regularity, content, and time of day. Make sure to respect everyone's individual communication styles and needs. Decide on mediums too--when and what information will we email, text, discuss over the phone, Google hangout, or talk face-to-face?
Student Protocols, Expectations, and Supports
Work with the team to establish similar student protocols, expectations, and supports as that will streamline systems for students and help everyone to support and coach a similar streamlined system leaving more work for learning and teaching.
The time we spend up front working together to plan for the year ahead results in a good plan and care for the students we teach. Of course any good plan has to leave room for the unexpected or the better idea, so make some space for that as well.